State smartsAmazing tips you didn’t know you needed – until now. Click on the + to see the handy 'hacks' under each category.
It’s time to shine
If the wooden surfaces around your house are looking a little winter weary, wipe them down with a mix of one part vinegar to one part lemon oil. They’ll soon be gleaming again.
All-natural fire starters
Dried orange peels make perfect fire starters, because the skin contains oil. Just toast the peels in a pan and store them in a sealed plastic container with a pack of silica.
Put annoying carpet dents on ice
Moving into a new house? Carpet dents can be a tacky reminder of the previous owners. Lay ice cubes in each indentation and watch them disappear.
Say goodbye to the garage squeeze
If your garage is on the tight side, take a foam swimming pool noodle, cut it down the middle and attach it to the walls on each side. It’s perfect protection against potential dings.
Hammer away without hitting your thumbs
It’s no fun doing DIY if you have to shatter your thumbs in the process. Holding the nail with a clothes peg creates a barrier and keeps it steady.
Eliminate paint smell with an onion
Painting the house and want to get rid of those paint fumes? Try cutting an onion in half and leaving the halves at opposite ends of the room. The onion will help absorb the fumes, leaving you with a freshly painted, odourless room.
Remove a minor scratch in glass
If you have a small scratch on a glass table or window, try cleaning it with a lint-free cloth and then rubbing it with baking soda toothpaste in a circular motion. Do this for 30-40 seconds, buff and repeat until the scratch fades.
Stop ants entering your house
Tired of finding ants in your sugar pot? Pour a line of white vinegar (you can buy this in the supermarket) around the perimeter of your house. It’s non-toxic, and it’ll stop the pesky critters in their tracks.
Use your noodle
Is there anything you can’t fix with pool noodles? When the cold weather comes in, slice one longways and slip it onto the bottom of the door to stop chilly drafts.
Spray away spiders
If you’re noticing more spiders are sheltering indoors with the colder weather, mix lemon, orange and lime juice together and spray in doorways and windowsills. They’ll soon disappear.
Power down the shower
Did you know that by simply turning down the temperature on your hot water cylinder to 60°C, you can still have warm showers but smaller energy bills? That extra 10°C could be costing you $30 a year.
De-clutter your gutter
Now’s the time to give your gutters a good clear out and check for leaks. No time for mucking around? Get it done with the help of a leaf blower
Heat up your home security
While you’re lying on the beach enjoying the sun, the last thing you want is someone coming into your home and taking all your hard-earned belongings. From sensor lights to window locks, we’ve got some great tips on how to protect your property here.
New car storage, new you
When your car starts looking less like a place to sit and more like a storage cupboard, pop a laundry basket in the back seat to hold extra bags, shopping or kids’ toys.
Make your kitchen appliances look brand new
Mix ¼ cup of baking soda in a bowl with enough peroxide to make a paste. Rub this on any kitchen appliance (stove, hob, fridge door handles) to make them spotless!
Gift-wrap like a guru
For an impressive and easy way to wrap presents, use a scarf. You don’t need any tape or ribbons, and it doubles as a gift.
Control your closet with this simple system
Tired of being attacked every time you open your linen cupboard? Just put the complete set of sheets inside one of the pillowcases before stacking them. No more spills - and no more mis-matched sheets.
Supercharge your phone charge
Down to 3% power and need to charge your phone in a hurry? Turn your phone to flight mode before you plug it in. By turning off GPS, emails etc, your phone will recharge faster.
Fill your boots
If you’re tired of having to re-shape and form your boots every winter, slip a short segment of pool noodle into them to keep them upright and free of kinks and wrinkles.
The bounce test
To check if batteries are still good, drop them onto a table from about 15 centimetres. If they give a small bounce and fall over, they’re good. If they bounce around a lot, they’re dead or on their way out.
Candles and canvas shoes
Combat soggy feet by waterproofing your canvas shoes with wax. Rub a candle against the canvas so that it goes completely white. Then use a hairdryer to melt the wax into its surface.
Hold onto your brolly
Losing a perfectly good umbrella is a real pain. To keep yours, tape your email address to the handle. That way if you leave it on the bus or in a café, you’ll have a better chance of seeing it again.
Got a crinkly collar? Use a hair straightener to iron out the creases.
Record your generosity
Keep track of your stuff by taking photos of your friends or family holding the items you’ve lent them. That way you’ll remember who’s got what.
Don’t be so clingy
Sick of clothes full of static from the dryer? Pop some nice round aluminium foil balls in with your next load and say goodbye to clingy clothes.
High and dry
As the wild weather draws closer, get proactive about flooding. Prop things in the garage up on bricks and place valuables on higher shelves to save yourself time and trouble if the waters start rising.
Be straight up
No time to iron? No problem. Pop your clothes in the dryer for about ten minutes with a wet face cloth to create a steaming effect that will iron out the wrinkles with minimum elbow grease required. Just make sure the label says ‘tumble dry’.
Un-shrink your favourite shirt
Tumble dryer shrunk your favourite shirt? Put it in a bowl with ice water and a cup of hair conditioner. It will come back to its normal size – and smell great too.
Cards to clear your windscreen
Got an old card taking up space in your wallet? Chuck it in your glove box and use it as a makeshift windscreen scraper on frosty mornings instead.
The parking hack you didn’t know you needed
It’s easier to get into a tight parking space by backing into it than by pulling forward. This is because you have a wider turn radius when you’re moving forward.
Say goodbye to blind spots with one tweak
If you can see the side of the car in your wing mirror, try moving the mirror out until you can’t see any part of the car. Your wing mirror’s field of vision should slightly overlap with your centre rear view mirror, giving you better visibility and fewer blindspots.
Cool down your car in less than a minute
Cool down a hot car in a flash. Wind down one window all the way, go to the other side and open and shut the door about 5-10 times. The fanning action will push the hot air out of the open window.
Play it safe and save on fuel
Maintaining your following distance not only makes you a safer driver, it makes you a smarter driver. With more time to slow down you’ll drive smoother, and by driving smoother you’ll use less fuel.
It’s mat to the rescue
Getting stuck on an icy road or a muddy ditch is never fun. But putting your car floor mats upside down under the wheels can give you enough traction to get moving again.
Vinegar, good on chips and windows
Tired of scraping ice off your windows every morning? Fill a spray bottle with 3 parts vinegar, 1 part water and spray it on every night to stop them icing up.
Lighten your load
With road trips on the horizon, save yourself some dollars by emptying out anything unnecessary from your car boot. That extra weight you’re carrying round could be costing you in fuel efficiency.
If you tend to accumulate stuff in your car, attach shoe organisers to the back of your seats to organise snacks, toys, and other bits and bobs. No more rummaging around to find things!
Wasting time hopping in and out of the car to check you’ve parked right? Attach a tennis ball to a piece of string hanging from the ceiling in your garage so that the ball touches your windscreen when you’re in the right place.
Scare birds away from your car
Don’t want birds to mess on your parked car? Leave a toy snake on top. Birds are scared of snakes and will stay far, far away.
Baking soda blitz
Heading off on a family roadie but your car is less than fresh? Sprinkle baking soda on your cloth car seats and carpet. Let it sit for two hours to soak up any odours, then vacuum away. You’ll be off and smelling sweet in no time!
Drop those ice-cream drips
Before you stop at your favourite ice-cream shop, here’s a nifty way to keep your kids and your car a little cleaner. Buy a pack of cupcake liners and use them to catch those pesky leaks, drips and dribbles. All the fun with none of the mess.
Make celery great again
No one likes limp celery – trim the top and bottom then stand your stalks up in a jar of ice water to make them crisp and crunchy again.
Here’s how to cool a bottle of wine in a snap. Wrap it in a wet paper towel and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Safe ‘n’ sand
Need to stash your cash or keys somewhere while you’re at the beach? Cut the top off an empty sunblock container then put them inside. No one will ever suspect they’re there.
Poking a few cloves into half a lime makes a good smelling, natural bug repellent. Also, try sprinkling coffee grounds near your doorways – the high nitrogen content will keep bugs out.
Trips to the beach can turn your car into a sandpit. Keep baby powder handy and use it on sandy feet to make it easy to brush off the beach.
Make the most of your leaves
Did you know leaf mould is an excellent addition to potting mix? Make your own by putting wet, fallen leaves into a black plastic bag with holes in it, then loosely tie the top and wait for the leaves to rot down.
Exercising your green thumb?
Make the most of your waste by putting crushed up eggshells and coffee grounds in your garden. They’ll boost your soil by fertilising it with calcium and nitrate. All you need to do is sprinkle them on your soil for the nutrients to start soaking in!
The big softy
Stop ice cream from going rock-hard by putting the tub in a zip lock bag. It’ll stop ice crystals from forming and save you from bending the spoon every time you try to scoop it out.
Dissolve barcode goo
Having trouble getting an annoying barcode sticker off? Rubbing it with a cloth soaked in vinegar will instantly remove the sticker – and the goo it leaves behind.
Pick up glass with a piece of bread
Next time you break a glass, here’s an easy way to pick up any little pieces. Take a slice of white bread and sponge it over the area. The bread does a great job at picking up all those fragments you’ve missed.
Remove barcodes with your hairdryer
Last time we told you how to remove barcode stickers with vinegar. Here’s another method you can try. Simply give the sticker a blast with a hot hairdryer and watch it lift off.
No more mould
If you don’t want your shower curtain to grow mould, spray it with salt water when you first buy it. It will be a permanent mould-deterrent.
The fastest way to fix your furniture
Instead of covering up the scratch on your coffee table with a book or one of your grandma's doilies, use a walnut. Just rub it over the scratch and voila! It’s gone.
Shave your woolies
If your winter woolies are looking a bit pilly, run a disposable razor over them. It’ll get rid of all the fluff and leave them looking like new.
Outdoor spruce up
Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz it over your outdoor furniture before wiping it down with a cloth. This’ll help get rid of mildew and stop mould from forming.
Know your onions
Nothing puts a damper on a summer party like having to clean the BBQ. But did you know that an onion is all you need? They’re a natural disinfectant, so just rub onion halves over the hot grate to loosen and lift food residue.
Put your post-it to work
Before you throw away a used post-it, run it between your keyboard keys to collect crumbs, fluff and dust.
Fresh as daisies
For a sweet-smelling bathroom hack, put a few drops of essential oil (like lemongrass) onto the cardboard tube of your toilet paper roll.
Sweet smell of clean
As you dust away the winter cobwebs, start by sprinkling some cinnamon on the carpet. Then while you vacuum it up, the smell of cinnamon will fill the house. Yum.
None of that rubbish
Sick of the vacuum effect between your bin and bag? Drill a couple of little holes in the bottom of your bin to save yourself having to wrestle with an icky rubbish bag.
Clean between the lines
Tackling dusty blinds doesn’t have to be a nightmare – just wrap cloths around a pair of tongs. Now you’ll be able to clean both sides in one go.
Got some fresh lawn on your clothes?
If you (or the kids) have been rolling around in the spring excitement, remember that white vinegar is the ultimate stain remover for grass stains. Just mix one part white vinegar with two parts water and work into the stain with a toothbrush before washing.
Bored of washing liquid?
If you want to really scrub up your wooden chopping boards, sprinkle them with coarse salt then scrub over with half a lemon – juicy side down. The combination of lemon juice and salt will get rid of lurking germs.
Box of tricks
Guests coming over and the house is in a state? Have a nice lidded box on hand for emergency clean ups. It’s not a permanent fix but it’ll do the trick – and give you more time to get yourself ready!
Let the dust settle
Cleaning’s one of those time suckers we can’t avoid entirely, but here’s a tip to make it faster. Dust always settles downwards, so clean from top to bottom to avoid cleaning the same thing twice.
If life’s been feeling a bit out of whack lately, beat the blues with a bit of breathing. Download a simple, free mindfulness app like Aura to diffuse your doldrums and melt the stress away.
Soothe sore lips
If your lips are prone to chapping in the chilly months, put a water-soaked green tea bag on them for five minutes. They’ll soon be soft, smooth and kissable again.
Wake up your brain
If you’ve been sitting still for too long in the cold and your hands and feet have gone numb, you can instantly wake them up by shaking your head back and forth.
No more tears
Speaking of onions, try putting on a pair of goggles next time you’re chopping them. It’ll make for a bit of a laugh, and stop you from tearing up while cooking.
Summer is great. Mozzie and sand fly bites, not so much. Try rubbing a little toothpaste on your bite – it stops the itch almost straight away..
Got drenched in a downpour?
We’ve all been there; you get caught in an autumn shower without a brolly in sight. To make a quick recovery, keep a microfibre towel at your office or in your car. You’ll be dry in no time.
Outsmart the allergies
As hay-fever season kicks in, try relieving a tickly throat by scratching the inside of your ear. Weird? Sure, but it works by making your throat have a little spasm that sorts out the tickle.
It’s getting balmy
You can still put your trusty lip balm to good use without those wintery winds – on paper cuts! Rubbing some of it on stingy paper cuts will seal them right up and stop the sting.
Get set, sleep, go!
Trying to get into some exercise but can’t hack the early morning starts? Sleep in your gym gear – minus shoes – so that all you have to do in the morning is roll out of bed, ready to go.
Put Todoist on your list
If your to-do list isn’t working, give it an update with Todoist. This handy little app helps you make a to-do list and stick to it. It’s super easy to set reminders, recurring jobs, and prioritise things.
Got a scanner on you?
Ever needed to scan something while you’re on the go? Download Scanbot onto your phone and you’ll be able to scan things into PDFs wherever you are. It takes care of reflections, shadows, and re-formats things so they’re ready to send. Easy!
Smooth finance operator
Make money management a cinch by opening accounts to allot bills, rent, saving and spending money into on pay day. Then arrange your direct debits and automatic payments to come out of the right accounts without worrying about where your money is.
Erase bug bites in a flash
Got an annoying bug bite on holiday? When you first get that itchy feeling, rub a glue stick on it. It will be gone within 15 minutes and won’t come back!
The lowdown on cybercrime
‘Tis the season for giving! But as we spend more time online, our chance of being targeted by cybercrime rises too. We’ve put together some top stats and tips on cybercrime, those sneaky cyber criminals, and what you can do to stay safe online while you’re shopping up a storm.